Photography... is it a hobby or a profession?

Dated: 23 Feb 2014

In our corner of the world, having a hobby or being called a professional brings about very different views and perceptions of a person’s ability and their attitude towards their work.

From society’s perspective, particularly those is the world of art and culture, it can often feel that being a professional is everything. If you inform someone that you’re an amateur they perceive you at being at a ‘non-serious’ stage of your artistic venture and your work isn’t taken seriously. However, it’s easy for us all to forget that everyone started their creative journey as an amateur and this is a very important stage for anyone who wishes to explore their creativity.

The amateur’s hobby is a friendly getaway, enabling any curious creative to explore the world in a new way. During this period the photographer is at the start of a blossoming relationship with his camera, getting to master the techniques that can be utilized to produce impactful photos that reflects his imaginative eye. The amateur seeks knowledge, expertise, better results and the prestige of being recognized for their work.

One of the main differences between the amateur and professional is that one is recognized and rewarded for their work, and the other is yet to gain acclaim.

Determining the difference between the professional photographer and amateur photographer is a subject matter that has been discussed by many writers who have set the standards for each. However, I dismiss those that support and praise the professional while ignoring the fact that they have taken photos in the beginning of their career that were dazzling, and that they would not surpass in later stages of their photography quest.

There are also many misconceptions about the professional photographer when it comes to the quality and type of his camera. People usually think that expensive, sophisticated cameras make excellent photographers – the truth is that you can only judge the photographer from the quality of his photos.

An amateur photographer takes photos that reflect his own sense of beauty, using his favourite angles to convey what they perceive as the best view. His photos can reach high artistic levels and can win some prizes too, yet this does not make his professional.

The professional photographer is known for his great technical skills that allow him to grasp the secret of excellent photography.

When a photographer is still at the stage of hobby, his camera works randomly to make discoveries. In this pursuit the amateur can make many mistakes that enrich the experience – happy accidents that produce wonderful imagery. Whereas, the professional photographer has a special artistic identity that allows him to be creative with his camera and his tools. This is what separates the two.

The professional makes fewer mistakes, and has the ability to assess subject matter, lighting and the equipment to reach the desired result.

Being able to assess your subject and tools defines your status.

Sahar Alzarei
Assistant Secretary-General

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